What does a dancer do?
Dancers express themselves using a variety of dance forms that allow for self-expression and free movement. The dance forms include classical ballet, jazz, tap, folk, hip-hop, swing, modern, belly, Latin, country and western, contra, ethnic, and many others. Dancers perform in many different settings such as musical theater, opera, concerts, spiritual settings, and many other productions. They also perform in movies, television, commercials, and music videos.
Dancers work with choreographers, who are professionals that create original dances and expand the interpretations of existing dances. Many dancers also teach in addition to performing. Experienced dancers often teach beginning classes of young children. Some dancers also combine talents and act and sing. Dancers typically perform in a group, but some very talented dancers perform solo.
What kind of training does a dancer need?
Many dancers complete formal training by attending dance school or colleges and universities and earn a bachelor or master degree. Others start dancing during childhood. All dancers must have a good foundation in classical technique regardless of the type of dance style they choose. Dancers typically spend at least 8 hours a day training and rehearing to keep their bodies in shape and prepare for performances. Dance education typically includes music, visual arts, history, and literature. Most programs focus on modern dance with supporting coursework in ballet, jazz, culturally specific dance, and classical techniques.
What are the prospects for a career as a dancer?
Employment of dancers is projected to grow more slowly than average for all professions, increasing 6% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The growing interest in dance will drive some job growth, but not enough to keep up with increasing production costs.
Job prospects are expected to be fair with keen competition. Only the most talented dancers will find full time employment. Some job openings will arise from the need to replace dancers who retire or leave the field for other reasons.
How much do dancers make?
As of September 2009, dancers with 1 to 4 years experience earned hourly rates between $8.58 and $25.27. Dancers with 5 to 9 years experience earned hourly rates between $8.71 and $73.70 (2).
A career as a dancer is an excellent choice for people with a strong passion for dancing and movement. Dancers must be in great physical health and have good physical stamina. They must have coordination, agility, flexibility, grace, a feeling for music, a sense of rhythm, and creative abilities. Patience, self-discipline, motivation, perseverance, and devotion are also essential. Dancers must also have good problem solving skills, excellent communication, and be able to work as part of a team.